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Susan Davenny-Wyner (Soprano, Conductor)

Born: October 17, 1943 - New Haven, Connecticut, USA

The American soprano and conductor, Susan Davenny-Wyner, was trained initially as a violinist and violist. After early studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Hartford School of Music, she graduated summa cum laude from Cornell University with degrees in both comparative English literature and music in 1965. She then pursued vocal studies with Herta Glaz (1969-1975). She received a Fulbright scholarship and a grant from the Ford Foundation; also won the Waiter W. Naumberg Prize.

Susan Davenny-Wyner made her Carnegie Recital Hall debut in New York. In in 1974 she made her orchestral debut as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. On October 23, 1977, she made her first appearance at the New York City Opera as Monteverdi's Poppaea. On October 8, 1981, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York as Woglinde in Das Rheingold.

Susan Davenny-Wyner had an international career as a soprano. She performed as a soprano soloist with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, among many others. Her eloquent voice and musicianship led to frequent engagements with such conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Sir Colin Davis, Erich Leinsdorf, André Previn, Lorin Maazel, Seiji Ozawa, Robert Shaw, and Michael Tilson Thomas. An exceptionally intelligent singer, she became equally successful as a performer of music in all historic idioms, from early Renaissance works to the most intransigent ultraiI modern scores. She often premiered works written especially for her and recorded for Columbia Masterworks, Angel/EMI, CRI and Musical Heritage.

Susan Davenny-Wyner continued her studies at Yale and Columbia Universities and received conducting fellowships for study at the Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals as well as at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute. She has since held conducting positions at the New England Conservatory and at The Cleveland Institute of Music, at Wellesley College, and at Brandeis and Cornell Universities. In 1998, she was Assistant Conductor of Chicago's Grant Park Music Festival, a position created especially for her.

After her successful career as a soprano, Susan Davenny-Wyner has received acclaim for an equally impressive career as a conductor. The MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour and WGBH Television have presented special documentary features on her life and work. The Cleveland Plain Dealer hailed her as "a galvanizing presence", and went on to state: “Wyner...defines those attributes reserved for the finest conductors. She has a firm vision of how a score should sound, an instinctive feel for texture and phrasing, and the ability to communicate ideas with almost laser-beam exactness to colleagues.” The Los Angeles Times praised her "sensitive and thoughtful leadership", The Chicago Tribune celebrated her "rousing and joyous" conducting, and The Boston Globe has selected her conducted performances of concerts and opera as among the "Best Musical Events of the Year" for the last four years.

Susan Davenny-Wyner's conducting credits include the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, The Boston Lyric Opera, and members of the Cleveland Orchestra in three special benefit performances. André Previn, Lynn Harrell, Peter Serkin, Emanuel Ax, Richard Stoltzman, Dominique Labelle, Eliot Fisk and Robert Levin have been among her guest soloists. She has also conducted concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, in the Czech Republic, at the Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals, in Chicago's Orchestra Hall, as well as in New York and for CBS Radio. In 1998, The American Symphony Orchestra League named her a Catherine Filene Shouse Conductor – a first-time award given by a national panel of conductors and orchestral managers to conductors poised for major careers.

Since 1999 Susan Davenny-Wyner has been Music Director and Conductor of the New England String Ensemble, a Boston-based professional string orchestra, and The Warren Philharmonic Orchestra. Calling her conducting of Dmitri Shostakovich's 14th Symphony in her debut with the New England String Ensemble "dazzling", The Boston Globe went on to state: "a sizable audience listened enthralled and rewarded the performers with a standing ovation…Wyner conducted with lucidly passionate specificity; she is musically and emotionally fearless." The Boston Globe chose that concert as one of the five Best Orchestral Performances of 1999.

Susan Davenny-Wyner has conducted a wide range of repertoire - symphonic, operatic, oratorio, and choral - from the 14th to 21st centuries and has garnered praise for her work with period instruments as well as for her world premiere performances of works just composed. Her recording of Samuel Adler’s Concertino #3 with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony has just been released on Albany Records and in the past season (2003) alone she presented six orchestral premieres of new works. In July of 2003, she conducted the production of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah for Lake George Opera in Saratoga, New York.

In 2002, she was a juror of the International Bach Competition of the International Bach-Archiv in Leipzig, Germany. The Library of Congress featured her as the Christmas week honoree in its 2003 “Women Who Dare” Engagement calendar, which honors exceptional woman of all eras and countries.

Susan Davenny-Wyner married the composer, pianist, conductor, and music educator, Yehudi Wyner in 1967

Source: Warren Philharmonic Orchestra Website; Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
Contributed by:
Aryeh Oron (November 2004, April 2010)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Samuel Baron / Yehudi Wyner


Selections from BWV 21, BWV 78 [x2], BWV 105, BWV 120a, BWV 133

Bach Aria Group


Aria from BWV 84

Links to other Sites

Susan Davenny Wyner (Warren Philharmonic)
New England String Ensemble with Susan Davenny Wyner (Celebrity Series)

Authors & Speakers att Beebe Library
Warren Philharmonic Works to Touch Entire Community (The Business Journal Online)

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Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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